Data 2020: Data ethics and responsible technology

Fri Feb 21, 2020
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How can we ensure that data – both personal and non-personal – is collected, used and shared without causing harm, and that technology is developed and deployed responsibly?

Data 2020: Data ethics and responsible technology

Data ethics and responsible technology is one of the areas we’ve identified in our Data 2020 landscape review to help organisations understand hot topics in the world of data in 2020 – from digital competition to data rights

People and organisations rely on data to make better decisions or to innovate – from improving how we travel to improving cancer diagnosis. But recently, headlines have focused on data controversies – such as the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal – leading to justified public concern around how personal data is being used. How can we ensure that data – both personal and non-personal – is collected, used and shared with minimal harm, and that technology is developed and deployed responsibly?

Handling data responsibly is a moral and legal imperative. In 2019, the UK’s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “Across the world people have woken up to the importance of personal data and how it’s used. Individuals should be the ones in control and organisations must demonstrate their accountability to the public.”

Retaining and building trust is also a practical necessity. If people stop trusting organisations and withdraw consent for data about them being collected or shared, then essential research and services  – public and private – could be stifled. A recent YouGov poll by the ODI indicates that, while 87% of the UK public think it’s important for organisations to use personal data ethically, most are unconvinced that they will. Organisations need to find a way to retain or build trust.

The good news is that organisations are starting to recognise the need to be ethical and trustworthy in how they use data to hold on to their clients and customers. Organisations like the Co-op, Nationwide and the BBC are embedding ethical data practices into their day-to-day approaches. Organisations that fail to recognise this risk may get left behind.

  • Turning ethical principles into practice
  • Public participation and other community engagement
  • Understanding international, regional and local variation in data ethics
  • Demonstrating trustworthiness through certification and accreditation
  • Regulation and the role of civil society to hold organisations accountable

This is not an exhaustive list of resources. If you provide tools or resources in this topic, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

  • Ada Lovelace Institute
  • Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation
  • Doteveryone
  • European Commission
  • Open Data Institute

This is not an exhaustive list of all organisations working in this area. If your organisation is working on this topic and you’d like to be included in this list, please let us know via [email protected]

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